A Post of August


The sun is shining today and the day is hot, and some of us are mighty tired of summer. Bring on the fall! Although I have to admit, not long now, not like in Florida where I used to live where the fall takes forever to arrive, and when it comes, it feels like more summer.

Anyway, I’ve been quiet lately – work, work, and more work. Also writing Sky Song, which sadly isn’t done yet. I’ll post another snippet from it later just to prove it’s moving along, albeit at a slow pace. Like it often is with long-term projects, I’m getting tired of Cricket and Lyle. C’mon guys, wrap it up! But no, they still have adventures ahead that need to be told.

Lately, I’ve been trying to decide what I want to post, and searched around the www for inspiration. Naturally, I follow other (famous) authors in the romance sphere and I have to say, folks, I’m such a boring person. Case in point, Danielle Steel. Deservedly, hers is a household name. She’s such a disciplined, prolific writer. And she has such an Instagram-worthy, interesting life. Nine kids! Three cute dogs! High fashions and travel to New York and Paris! Me – I live in a middle-class suburb near a busy road and my fashions come from TJMaxx. I don’t even have pets because men in my household are allergic to cats and I don’t like walking a dog in the rain. So, finding a worthy subject to share on social media is a bit of a challenge every time. Or maybe I suck at self-promotion. 🙂

But enough about me. I compensate for being common as muck by writing stories about women who are also common and average, living their quiet lives until they meet un-common men and get sucked into adventures. They find themselves in situations they were unprepared for. And that’s when they discover strengths inside themselves they had no clue they possessed. They become the protectors, the fighters, the warriors. They start swimming against the current and take on evil organizations at their own detriment and in the name of what they think is right. And cheers to them!

Inner Beast - Chapter 2 

  The next morning Olivia came to work early, hoping to catch some quiet time before the others started filing in. Besides, one of their microscopes had gone out of order, which put an added strain on their already tight deadlines. 
  Firing up the equipment before anyone else called dibs, she carefully spread out fiber specimens from several different cases, making sure nothing got mixed up, and went to work. And everything else receded, leaving her on the other side of the world. 
  The nifty microscope transformed a tiny boring piece of lint into something fantastic and otherworldly. Like a mythical creature, a minuscule fragment of carpeting bloomed with scaled tentacles in the colorless projection. Frayed fibers of a torn cord turned into something she lacked words to describe. An intricate web. A porous mesh of twisted particles. An alien landscape. 
  All these years, and every time was still like the first time. Olivia could never get tired of the reverent amazement at how lucky she was to be granted an ability to see things from such a close perspective.
  By the time she finished with her last specimen and headed for her cubicle, half the morning had already gone, and the lab was humming with activity. Alex was, as per usual, hunched over the samples in the corner.
  “Hey!” Alex called out as Olivia passed by.
  “Hey yourself.”
  “So, did you make friends with Dax yesterday?”
  Friends? She wouldn't go that far. “I did get to know him a little.”
  “And what do you think?”
  “He’s alright.” In a not-Brian sort of way, which was to say he barely cut it in Olivia’s biased opinion. “I haven’t seen his work yet, but Shade was laudatory in his assessments. So there’s hope.”
  “Dax’s weird, but his work is flawless. He doesn’t disappoint.”
  Olivia stopped her progress to her desk. “You sound like you know him.”
  Alex shrugged. “We went to the same high school, except he was three years ahead, same as my older sister. I think they dated a little.”
  “Dated a little?” Olivia echoed.
  Alex grinned. “She had hots for him. I’m not sure he was interested, but he obliged her for a while, took her to the movies, crap like that. I haven’t seen him in a long time. He was pretty damn brilliant back then, so he graduated early while my poor sister sucked at math and had to go to a summer school to get her GED.” Alex’s tone held no pity for her older sibling. “Dax was her one and only attempt at dating a smart guy, and she failed miserably.” 
  “Oh. Well, then. He should do well with us, shouldn't he?” 
  She gave Alex a perfunctory smile and moved on. 
  Mystery solved. Dax knew Alex was a girl because he knew Alex. And no sense of smell was involved, thank you very much. 
  I can smell it, how else? Olivia rolled her eyes. What a dunce. At the same time, she marveled at herself for doubting the voice of reason and falling, though not all the way in, for his outrageous claims that he could smell things out. What was wrong with her?
  Dax arrived soon after and got situated in his - Brian’s - cubicle. Olivia, keenly aware of his arrival, pretended to be busy and not notice. No, not pretending, she was busy. Very busy. Really. Too busy to even say hello. She’d wasted enough of her time yesterday taking him around, and if Shade approached her again with another request to train Dax, she had a firm rejection in mind. Let Matthew take a turn. Or Alex, the old chum of Dax’s.
  Concentration eluded her, and unusually loud voices of the analysts didn’t help her focus.
  “No, just you look at that. What am I supposed to do with this rubbish?” Helen’s shrill whine resonated all the way to Olivia’s cubicle. 
  “What’s that you’ve got in there? Another rotten big toe?” Matthew asked from across the hall, referring to an incident from a while back when a box had mistakenly been put in their lockbox instead of the one across the street where the medical examiner’s office was located. Naturally, nothing pleasant could be found in a box intended for the medical examiner. To add to the situation, the delivery had come in with a rush request, and Shade had personally delivered the box to Helen after lunch and ended up holding a bucket as she puked her sushi out. 
  Helen’s tone became as biting as Arctic frost, and her clipped British accent came out especially sharp. “That is not funny, Matthew.”
  “My bad. Sorry.” Matthew didn’t sound the least bit sorry. 
  “What is it and what’s wrong with the thing?” someone asked about the item that was giving Helen so much heartburn. 
  “It’s damp. And it’s got mold all over it. Way to ruin your own investigation, people.” Helen easily got upset when evidence came compromised because of poor preservation practices. 
  Olivia gave up on finding focus. Pushing away from her desk, she got up and went to see what was going on. 
  The sight of Dax’s head in Brian’s old cubicle pinched her heart, and she sped right past it.
  “Good morning, Olivia,” Dax called out without turning. 
  “Good morning,” Olivia murmured but didn’t stop. 
  She missed Brian. God, if only he were alive, he might’ve helped her make sense of her wariness around Dax. It was enough for her to catch a glimpse of the silly man bun, neatly twisted and secured with an elastic band, and her system went on high alert. 
  Today he wore dark jeans and a simple gray t-shirt that hung from his frame. His hair below the bun was styled with a low undercut that left a narrow strip of short buzz around his ears and the back of his head. Olivia judged the style to be juvenile and ill-suited for a man with the constitution of a fence post.
  What would Brian think of him?
  In the main area, the drama with Helen’s sample continued to unfold.
  “Gross. Look at that.” Matthew was pointing at the clear plastic back Helen was holding. 
  Ms. Dew waddled in. “Let me see the paperwork, Helen.”
  “It says on the slip that it’s a towel,” Helen’s grating voice intoned. “We can see that once we pick off the mold, thank you very much.”
  “Let me read the rest. Okay. One from a matched set, yes, yes, the victim’s brother had it in his possession… Wait.” 
  “Exactly!” Helen whined in a shrill tone. “I don’t understand if it’s the victim’s or the brother’s. And if they want a comparison, where’s the other towel? These people need to get training before I end up with another big toe!”
  Someone snorted with laughter – probably Matthew – and Ms. Dew clucked her tongue and made soothing noises. 
  Dax quietly joined them. “Do you think the other towel may still be in the intake room?”
  “Who knows?” By now Helen sounded so incensed you’d think her plane left without her. “Why do I have to spend my time turning over packages in search of something that should already be on my desk? Do they want the analysis or not?”
  “Let me go check the intake room. If it’s there, I’ll find it.”
  Olivia’s brows flew up. The arrogance! He thought he was something else, didn’t he? She almost wished the police department screwed up their submission all the way, and the second towel would not be there for him to find. 
  Of course, Dax didn’t sound all that arrogant, only self-assured. But she refused to differentiate.
  Helen clearly didn’t share Olivia’s derision toward the newcomer. She stopped complaining and even volunteered to go to the intake room with him. And together, cozy-shmozy and chatting like old friends, they took off to hunt for the missing towel.
  Olivia returned to her desk, shaking her head at her own uncharacteristic behavior. She was never one for office drama, and she shouldn't become a busybody now. Dax could gossip and wallow in whatever outrage Helen came up with that day without her participation, if he was so inclined. 
  She sat down and unlocked her computer.
  “Hey, girl. What’s doing?” Randy’s head popped up above the partition, startling her. 
  “Randy! How are you?” She stood up and went around to join him.
  “I’m here, ain’t I?”
  “Is everything okay?”
  “Yes. Why?” 
  “I’ve been trying to reach you since yesterday. You never replied.”
  Randy pulled his phone to check. “Ah. Guess my phone died on me.”
  Olivia took in his unkempt appearance. His face was puffy with bloat, his eyes bloodshot, and dense scruff shadowed his jaw. In a nutshell, he looked like a poster boy for a binge hangover.
  He wouldn’t meet her eyes, obviously aware of how low he’d sunk and of the fact that he showed up for work an hour late.
  “Do you need a charger?”
  His head jerked up. “A what?”
  “A charger. For your phone.” She pointed to the device he was holding in his hand.
  “No.” He scraped his other hand over his face and rubbed his tired looking eyes. “I’ve got one. Thanks.”
  He really looked pitiful, but showing pity wouldn’t work with Randy. Olivia cleared her throat. 
  “I’ve got your cases organized. Shade was asking after the one for the APD. The one on the multiple burglaries. I finished the tool marks yesterday afternoon and turned it in. Lever was hounding Shade something bad.” She caught herself short of apologizing for doing Randy’s job. The prosecuting attorney – known within their lab as Lever for attempting to force them produce results that could help him secure convictions – had called Shade bitching about delays, but that was nothing out of the ordinary. Olivia simply wanted to help lighten Randy’s caseload. 
  Randy smiled at her with a sad little smile. “You’re a regular Fairy Godmother, you. You need to get a life, Liv.”
  She wrinkled her nose at him. “Your advice is appreciated but not needed. A simple thanks for the tool marks would do.”
  “There you go. As for my life, I’ve got plans to go running with my sister. We’ve fallen out of habit, but I want to see us doing it again.”
  Randy perked up a little at the mention of exercise. As a former athlete, he understood the thrill of a good workout. 
  “That’s great! But why do you have to do it with your sister?”
  She gave a small laugh. “Bonding experience?” 
  “You’re already bonded. You need to get a man to bond with. Preferably one that can give you a run for your money. Am I witty or what?”
  “You absolutely are.” 
  Although Randy’s advice to get a life had some value, she found it ironic that he felt in any position to dispense matchmaking wisdom, considering he’d gotten ditched himself and hadn’t been able to come to terms with it a year later. Besides, she wasn’t ready to grab the first available bachelor and run with him, pun intended. It would happen when it happened, and she refused to rush headlong into a relationship just so she could have one.
  “About the cases,” Olivia steered him away from the relationships topic. “Do you need my help?” She kept her voice low to keep the offer just between the two of them to save his pride.
  Still, he flinched. “I’ve got it.”
  Olivia regarded him with exasperation and decided that it was time for some honesty. “I’m afraid it would be a challenge to catch up on all of these,” she pointed at the pile of kits and paperwork, “before they’re due.”
  “I said I got it.” His chin jutted at her. “I’ll work extra hours if I have to.” 
  He wouldn’t. He hadn’t done overtime in weeks. He could barely last until five as it was, itchy to leave here and go bar hopping or whatever it was he did to get his nightly buzz. 
Not to mention that in his rush to process samples, his results became… how to put it nicely… unreliable. She was just picking the right words to point that out when she felt Randy’s attention abruptly leave her and his eyes fixate on something behind her back.
  “What the… Who is that?”
  Olivia knew without looking that Randy spotted Dax. “The new Brian.”
  Randy’s head swiveled to her and back to where Dax was presumably standing. 
  “What’s wrong with him?”
  Not gifted with a diplomatic touch to begin with, Randy had lost what little filter he’d had because of all his problems. Offending someone who looked like Dax would take Randy all of two sentences. God knew Alex had stopped talking to Randy a long time ago over his comments about their appearance.
  “I am not sure if there’s anything wrong with him,” Olivia said. “Today is his second day with us, so he hasn’t had a chance to share his full medical history. Maybe he’s okay, just pale.”
  “No shit he’s pale. He’s a zombie!”
  “Randy, stop it.”
  “For fuck's sake, he truly looks like a walking body bag filler. Workers’ comp in the making. How rusty are your CPR skills?”
  ”What if he decides to give up the ghost here? Wait, maybe he is a ghost!”
  “Hush.” Olivia threw a furtive glance around his shoulder. “You’re full of crap.”
  Helen and Dax had made their way back from the intake and were now standing in the center of the lab, surrounded by Ms. Dew, Matthew, and Alex, all intent on examining something she couldn’t see.
  She turned to her dumbass friend. “Let me introduce you. And you need to behave. We need him, and he really is a nice guy.”
  Something in her tone alerted Randy and he gave her a sharp glance. “You’ve got a problem with him. What is it?”
  “Nothing,” she denied.
  “No really, what is it?”
  “Nothing. Really. It’s just… he isn’t Brian,” she confessed quietly. 
  Maybe it was, in fact, her problem. She took an immediate dislike of him simply because Dax, pale but alive, moved into Brian’s cubicle, was now working Brian’s cases and making friends with Brian’s friends, while Brian’s cancer ravaged body was turning to dust. It seemed unfair.
  Randy blew out a minty gum-infused breath. “Crap. I’m sorry about Brian. I’m an ass for not saying this before. I feel for your loss. He was a great guy, and a great friend. I get it.”
  Tears stung Olivia’s eyes. “Thank you.” She sniffed and blinked rapidly to get rid of the tears.
  Reminding herself that life was generally unfair, and that she had no control over things like death, Olivia pulled Randy to the group.
  “…and in no time, Dax had it.” Helen positively beamed with pride. Excitement colored her cheeks and her eyes gleamed. Olivia had never seen her that animated.
  Dax was holding a large plastic container filled with packaged and labeled envelopes. His facial expression was neutral.
  Helen practically pranced on the spot as she recounted the story. “Dax walks in, takes one look around, and asks this sad Constance person who is stuffing her face with Doritos, ‘What’s in that box?’ And she is like, what box? Imagine, they didn’t know! It’s been there for weeks! What a mess. Now we’re going to catch flack for the delays, and it’d be our fault. Not ours, of course, the Intake’s, but we’ll get lumped together, mark my words. Shade will be a bear again for a month.”
  Ms. Dew danced around Dax as gracefully as her girth allowed. “I’m so happy that you located this box, Dax! How did you know?”
  Olivia held her breath afraid he’d make a crack about sniffing things out like he did yesterday. Randy would never let it go.
  “Yeah, how’d you know?” Randy’s question held such an unsubtle challenge that Olivia knew without a doubt Randy was going to try and bully the new guy. In his mind, he’d be doing her a favor by siding with her against the “interloper.”
  “Dax, this is Randy,” she quickly interjected, thinking that maybe sharing with Randy her reservations toward Dax had been a mistake. “You haven’t had a chance to meet him yesterday. Randy’s been a part of our lab for… Oh, how long has it been?”       She turned to Randy with a questioning look.
  He played nice. “Three years. Nice to meet you, Dax.”
  Randy stuck out his hand. The short sleeve of his shirt revealed a thick, veiny forearm, the kind that could twist fire pokers into pretzels. The few years spent outside the fighting ring weren’t enough to completely eradicate a decade or so that Randy had spent throwing his opponents on the mats. His muscled frame might be quickly going to seed, but he hadn’t turned into a glob of fat quite yet. 
  Olivia frowned. It wasn’t that Randy’s arms and hands looked wicked strong; after all, he couldn’t help it. It was the tension radiating from Randy that left her baffled. He positioned himself with a slight turn to his body, legs apart and chin drawn in, his hand stuck out at Dax at an angle where any blow could be easily deflected. As if he expected aggression. As if he suddenly saw a fighting opponent in the skinny dude with a man bun. 
  Ignoring – or maybe oblivious to - the nonverbal display of physical superiority, Dax calmly set the box with evidence packages on the counter. He extended his hand toward Randy’s for a handshake. As always, he wasn’t exactly slow but appeared in no hurry to make a movement, yet somehow it didn’t take him any longer than necessary to act. 
  “Nice to meet you, Randy.” Dax smiled slightly as their hands touched. Randy’s muscles flexed when he clamped his sizable hand around Dax’s in what looked like a firm, manly grip. To Olivia’s surprise, Randy’s hand failed to swallow Dax’s – his long pale fingers and wide palm matched Randy’s in size if not the tawny brawn.
  Dumbfounded by her discovery, Olivia stared at their clasped hands. If not for her fixation, she would have likely missed the subtle tension in Dax’s arm that made his tendons tighten. The perfectly smooth surface of his forearm rippled as if wind blew on calm water. His veins pulsed once, bulging in ropey relief underneath the skin. Thin red striations snaked down the white skin with a single strong pulse of his veins and faded. Like lightning, it lasted for a split second as he briefly squeezed Randy’s hand and let go. They both stepped apart, with Randy’s face registering confusion.
  Olivia blinked and looked around. No one else seemed to have noticed anything unusual about the handshake, but then no one else seemed to have paid attention. Helen was busy rustling her newfound baggy containing the second towel, and her excited handling of it was drawing more attention than the seemingly conventional introduction of Randy and Dax. 
  Olivia glanced again at Dax’s arms, but both looked thin and white and smooth. Fine dusting of blond hair covered the tight skin that wrapped around flat muscles. She wasn’t sure if she really witnessed this weird thing with the red streaks or if that surreal moment was just a figment of her imagination. She looked at Randy. Whatever he’d witnessed, he still had that confused look about him, like he just lost a pissing contest. 
  His mouth got a sour pout. “So, Dax, tell us about yourself. What else are you good at besides finding hidden boxes?”
  Dax shrugged. “Guess you summed it up for me. I find missing things. Connect the dots. That’s why I’m in this profession.”
  “Spend lots of time indoors, don’t you?” Randy gave Dax’s face a look that insinuated the other guy’s general appearance didn’t fit in with Randy’s ideas of a good time.
  “Sure do. Most of the time. What about you?”
  Randy smirked. “I prefer diverse pastimes.”
  A phone’s ringing interrupted what was quickly becoming a tedious one-upping on Randy’s part. The sound was coming from Randy’s desk.
  “Excuse me.” He turned and marched away. 
  If Olivia guessed correctly, Milton Shade was trying to get a hold of his wayward employee, and Randy expected the call. Fat bear that he was, Shade was no one’s fool. Their boss was as aware of what was happening – or in Randy’s case, not happening – in the lab as Olivia. She would probably hear from Shade too, for all of those cases she did for Randy. 
  She glanced up and started. Dax was watching her with chilling intensity.
  “What?” she snapped, peeved that he had the power to startle her, and immediately realized how unreasonably hostile she was being toward, essentially, a stranger. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to snap.”
  “That’s okay. I’m sorry for startling you.” He was still watching you intently.
  “So, I have to say I’m impressed. I mean, that you managed to uncover that box with the missing towel. How did you, really?” With her left hand Olivia pushed a lock of hair behind her right ear in a nervous gesture she had worked hard to eradicate. With Dax’s watching her, the old habit came back full force.
  He grinned. “Okay, I’ll tell you my secret, but only if you tell me something in return.” His smile had a strange endearing quality. 
  “What would you like to know?”
  “How well do you know Randy?”
  So, Dax had picked up on the tension. Of course he would.
  “Oh, that. Fairly well.” She paused, weighing her next words. “Randy’s a decent guy. A straight shooter. He’s hit a rough patch on the personal front, but it’ll be over soon, I’m sure.”
  “I’m sure,” Dax echoed in a placating tone. “He drink?”
  Olivia stalled, not wanting to flat out lie but at the same time avoiding the details to protect Randy’s reputation. “Not at work. Why do you ask?”
  Dax raised his eyebrows that looked a lot darker than his hair – a startling contrast. “Because I can smell it on him. Is it why you stayed late yesterday and verified the three matches he had done before? You don’t trust his judgment?”
  Olivia ducked her head. “Look, I do a lot of things around this lab because we’re understaffed. You’re new, so you don’t have to worry about anything except your assigned cases. But if you have questions, I’m here for you, just like I’m here for Randy, for everyone.”
  “That’s not what I meant.” His dark eyes behind glasses took on a gentle glow. “Quite the opposite. You’re picking up slack from others, and I can help with that. I want to. There’re things I can do fast, because I can just…” he stopped himself.
  Olivia smiled and prodded, “Smell it?” It was becoming their shared joke.
  That endearing lopsided grin came out again. “Yeah. And see. Some things I don’t have to smell. Like patterns. Bite marks. Break lines. So use me. Let me help.” His velvet voice dropped, and dark erotic images danced on the edges of Olivia’s consciousness. 
  Embarrassed at herself, self-conscious and shocked at the direction of her thoughts, she shook her head dislodging the lock of hair from behind her right ear. “I will keep your offer in mind.” She had to clear her throat to purge the nervousness from her mind. “Now, will you tell me how you found that box at the Intake’s? With the towel?”
  His smile was wicked. “Smelled it.”
  Olivia chuckled. “Stop, Dax. I’m serious.”
  “So am I.”
  Shaking her head, she turned and went to check on Helen’s progress. He followed.
  By now, Helen had donned their standard issue purple gloves and was hovering over the two towels spread on the counter. Both looked soggy and moldy, with identical purple monograms across the edge. Helen had already labeled sterile containers where sample fibers from both towels would be deposited upon collection.
  Mathew loitered nearby, idly nibbling on a skinny sandwich. He scratched his head under the knit hat and said, “There’s a stain on the right one. Above the monogram.”
  Helen paused to give him a withering look. “Well thank you, Matthew. You’re very helpful. That’s what I’m going to report back to the PD: The forensic lab says there’s a stain on your towel. Case closed.”
  Matthew shrugged in return not at all perturbed by Helen’s acerbic retort. “Doesn’t look like blood to me. May be piss, though. Or vomit.”
  “Go away.”
  Smiling slightly around a mouthful of the sandwich, Mathew made his way back to his own workstation, winking at Olivia as he passed. 
  Dax sidestepped Helen and leaned toward the towels. “Anything you can tell, Helen?” He gave Helen one of his searching looks, the one that Olivia had determined to be distinctly Dax. When he asked a question, he focused his full attention on you, and that attention penetrated deep.
  Helen fussed with the containers. “Well, this is only preliminary,” she purred in a squeaky and completely un-Helen little voice, “but just from my experience I don’t think this is bodily fluids. Of course, with so much mold I can be mistaken.” She sounded like knew she wasn’t mistaken. 
  “I agree with you,” Dax said. 
  Reaching for a slip of paper, Helen turned her back to the towels. Using this moment, Dax leaned down even more, so low that his face came within a couple of inches of the nasty towel. He paused for a second before moving to the second towel, hovered there as well, and straightened up before Helen turned around. It almost looked as if he… sniffed at the stain.
  “Oh, no, you don’t. You’re taking this silly game too far,” Olivia murmured under her breath. Dax didn’t acknowledge her comment, but she knew he heard it. The corner of his mouth went up and his lovely nose twitched. 
  “What do you figure the stain might be?” he addressed Helen.
  “Most likely a drink. It isn’t blood for sure though I’m going to test it with phenolphthalein to have something other than my word for the investigators,” Helen explained as if incensed at the prospect that the investigators on the case might not consider her visual observations sufficient enough to stand in court. 
  She adjusted her gloves. “I have to run all kinds of tests. With so much mold all over the stain this evidence is almost completely ruined.” 
  “Let me know what you find out. I’m curious.”
  “I sure will!” Helen promised.
  Olivia turned to go back to her desk, and Dax again followed her. She half intended to let it go, but she simply didn’t have it in her nature to ignore things.
  “Was it necessary to pretend to sniff the towels? A joke told twice isn’t funny anymore. Besides, those things are nasty.”
  “They didn’t smell too bad.” He sounded serious.
  “Oh my God, please. What did they smell like?”
  He briefly looked away. “It’s an alcoholic drink. Helen’s right, the mold messed it up.” He rotated his head as annoyance flashed across his pale face. “I can’t say what kind. Citrusy. It had vodka in it, that’s for sure.”
  Olivia blew a long breath out. Citrus with its distinctive smell - she’d let it pass. But everyone knew alcohols as compounds evaporated in a matter of minutes because the carbon atoms in their molecules couldn’t form strong bonds. There should be nothing left for him to smell on the towel except mold. Not even a trained detection dog would have had any success. And Dax wasn’t a dog. He was a nut, that’s what he was.
  “If you say so.”
  “You don’t believe me.”
  Olivia paused, reminding herself that she should stay polite and professional. They were on track to remain colleagues for years. What if he were easily offended? You never knew with the nut jobs. “It’s not that I don’t. But I’ll admit, you are the first analyst I’ve known who claims to sniff things out in the literal sense.”
  Dax’s jaw clenched and he dropped his gaze from Olivia’s face to the carpet. He stuffed his hands in his pockets and shrugged, looking uncomfortable. “You’re right, I overplayed it. I get it. Sorry.”
  He looked dejected, and Olivia immediately felt bad. Maybe he wasn’t a nutcase, but simply socially awkward. As a new kid on the block, he probably tried to make friends with her, nothing else. So what if his way of engaging included sniffing?
  “That’s alright, don’t worry about it. I won’t tell anyone,” she promised. “But hey, if you were serious about helping with cases around here, I just might take you up on your word.”
  He nodded, and they went to their respective cubicles.

  Olivia worked by herself for the rest of the day. 
  Randy had come back from Shade’s office in a foul mood. He worked through lunch, all the while wearing earbuds in an obvious attempt to discourage conversation. Olivia hoped that maybe the threat of a reprimand, or even termination, would be enough to shake some sense into Randy’s pickled brain. But when she glanced into the direction of his workspace at the end of the day, he was gone.
  So much for overtime.
  Dax was also nowhere to be seen. She must’ve missed him leaving, although why she felt like she should have been aware of it baffled her.
  She stood up, thinking that she might as well call it a day too. Phoebe texted, confirming their planned run around the track behind their old high school.
  She powered off her computer and picked up her bag.
  Helen was cleaning up, having just finished with her analysis. The two towels sat on the counter, neatly folded, bagged, and labeled. 
  “Have you figured out that stain, Helen?” Olivia asked.
  “I think so. Like I said, a drink.” Helen, being Helen, preened a little. “It took all I had and then some, with the degradation. But I did it! It's a cocktail, a margarita or something, either spilled on or wiped with this towel. Lime juice gave it away. I’m so proud of myself.”
  “Way to go, girl. You’re the best,” Olivia was pleased Helen figured it out. “What a waste of tequila,” she joked.
  Helen laughed. “Don’t worry, no waste. There was only vodka in it.”

2 thoughts on “A Post of August

  1. I am screaming in excitement! Best birthday month gift ever!

    I really think Dax is our ‘Friend’ and can’t wait to figure out the mystery of what happened.

    I know you said you haven’t finished Inner Beast and only have a good chunk written but I hope we get chapter 3 or more of it soon!

    Can’t wait for Song Sky’s release either – will it be later 2022 or 2023?

    Thank you!


  2. So happy to get an update on Sky Song and some more of Inner Beast! You are a very talented writer – your writing paints a picture in my mind and I love your ordinary heroines. I will continue to wait patiently for more!


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